Monday, November 30, 2009

Tradition! Tradition!

by Jo Robertson

Yesterday we attended a triple baptism. Two of our grandchildren and one of their cousins was being baptized and combined their ceremonies. The entire affair got me thinking about traditions and the things we do as families, communities, or friends to bind us together – the ties that bind, so to speak.

This, of course, was a religious ceremony, but our traditions don’t have to revolve around religion. Many traditions are tied to family. I've always considered my family my Higher Power. Around sixty people attended the baptism, all but a few of
them family members, and although it was quite chaotic, it was also a lot of fun.

One little boy tried to stick his hands in the baptismal font. Babies cried throughout, except for our Emma of course, who behaved perfectly. The piano was notoriously louder than the singers. And all the food at the reception was gone by the time the adults got there! Must’ve been the “other families'” grandchildren.

My son-in-law’s family goes bowling every Thanksgiving Day and they use this opportunity to take an annual family picture since Mark’s sister is a professional photographer and they’re all together. Many of my friends hassle the nightmare that is Black Friday.

You’ve noticed that here in the Lair, we’ve begun to have our own traditions. We celebrate our anniversaries quite uproariously with Sven, the Roman boys, and the Golden Rooster all playing prominent parts. We have a Christmas countdown. Even our invitation to guesting authors is a tradition we enjoy and hope our readers do too.

In The Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye says “And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: TRADITION!"

What do you readers do to “keep your balance," especially during the hectic holidays? Do you have rituals, ceremonies or traditions that keep you centered during the year?

Or do you have a favorite holiday recipe you’d like to share with us? Below is one of my favorites for using the left-over turkey and dressing (if you have any!). Thanks to my sis who passed it on to me. Enjoy!


3 cups cooked turkey (or chicken)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 cup sour cream

Layer diced turkey in 9x13 pan. Mix soups and sour cream. Spread over turkey. Sprinkle 1 package herb-seasoned stuffing mix over and pour 2 cups chicken broth as needed over dressing. Bake at 350 degrees covered for 30 minutes and 5 minutes more uncovered.


mariska said...


shannon said...

Ah yes... traditions. My newest tradition is to be finished with all my Christmas shopping BEFORE December 1st so that I can actualy ENJOY those Christmas Traditions instead of feeling rushed and stressed out about them. One of the bitter ironies of my life is when I am screaming at my kids to hurry up and brush their teeth so we can make our traditional playdoh scultpures of the symbols of Christmas (one each day). I sound like this, "Hurry up and get down here so we can have our Family Together Time, Dammit!" Okay... I don't swear, but you get the irony right? So a couple years ago I vowed to keep Christ in Christmas and do all the secular stuff (shopping!) before December. So far it's been better... but not perfect. One day I will get there... of course by then my kids will be grown and gone and I won't have anyone to yell at. Boo hoo!!!

jo robertson said...

Yay, Mariska. Limecello was starting to get a run on the rooster. Enjoy him. I imagine he's breathing easier now that Thanksgiving's over here in the States.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Shannon. What a great goal. I don't think I ever managed that. "Hurry up and have fun with your mom and dad, dammit" sounds right up my alley.

The good thing about kids and holidays is nothing much seems to take the joy out of it for them.

Jane said...

I mostly just try to stay out of the way when the big family meal is being prepared. I will help out if they need me to, but I don't do any real cooking. It's definitely less stressful for me. Occasionally we'll have an obnoxious guest that makes everyone annoyed, but we try our best to ignore them so that we can enjoy the holidays.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Mariska, congrats!

Jo, what a lovely post. And you're right about our traditions in the lair. I'm really surprised how quickly they built up. Some of them came from us, some came from guests, some came from our wonderful buddies. Some, I think, came from the ether! Perhaps we should have an Ether Bunny! I think the traditions help to make us feel like a community.

One of my favorite things heading for Christmas is sitting down and writing my Christmas cards. Days were when I used to include personal letters but sadly that's gone by the wayside. But even so, it's lovely to reinforce bonds with people I mightn't be in contact with that often but who I think of with great fondness. This year I've got organised to do this early too - the last few years I've left it till the last minute so it's felt like a chore instead of a pleasure. Get such a kick out of putting those piles of finished cards in the postbox!

Susan Sey said...

Awwww, I'm all caffeinated & up late & I thought I'd have a shot at the Golden Rooster. I guess I'll have to get up earlier in the morning than this to nab that wily cockerel. :-)

Great post, Jo. I'm totally going to try that turkey recipe. I just ate the last of my turkey soup for lunch today & was contemplating what to do with the rest of it.

As for traditions that keep me grounded, I was just thinking about this today when my church kicked off ADvent with a potluck & carol sing. I'm okay with being far from family during the holidays now that I have my own brood. But whenever I sing christmas carols, I miss my family like crazy. Because here's the thing:

My husband's family doesn't sing.

I mean, of course they sing. But they take it so seriously. Singing is something you do in the choir or at the very least church, with sheet music & great concentration.

My family, on the other hand, breaks into song on any occasion. Somebody sings a line of something or other, people join in, next thing you know there's three part harmony & dancing. We stand around in the kitchen after holiday meals while my mom washes dishes & we all dry, singing Christmas carols. I learned the alto part of every carol I know from my mom & I cherish our church's giant choir because it means I can belt out carols in any harmony I want without drawing too much attention to myself.

Every time I sing at my in-laws house, people are startled. Then they listen in respectful silence until I finally realize nobody is going to join in and dwindle off.

I can't wait until my girls are old enough to carry an independent tune. There are such lovely harmonies I want to teach them.

Helen said...

Congrats Mariska

Great post Jo, a tradition for me is to get stressed about not having enough time to get everything done LOL. I always make 6 christmas cakes at this time of the year 4 I give as gifts and 2 we use for the family I have been very good this year and I have already made 5 of them only one more to go I still need to make the Chrissy pudding but I will make that when I finish work for 11 days break yay not long but a break.
Normally while the cake is in the oven I put a Christmas CD on and write my Chrissy cards out but I haven't done that yet. Another tradition we have is everyone gets to stir the cake or pudding and make a wish.
After Christmas I like to relax as much as posible and get caught up on reading.

Have Fun

p226 said...


For you see, there are two camps. Exactly two camps. There are those who are all about the pie. They profess that the cake is a lie. Then there are the cake eaters, who have no use for pie.

My wife though... she has divided by zero. She has caused a rift in the universe. She has combined pie and cake. I know it's blasphemous. But it is indeed pake. Pumpkin pake. And it is indescribable.

So here's the recipe. I already have it typed up because a gun-forum saw pictures of the pake. Such power... such dangerous, universe imploding power had to be protected. So, I photographed the pake along with the protection provided for it.

You can see, that pake protection is serious business.

And here's the recipe, demanded by the gun forum:

Serves: 18 - 20
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 70 - 75 minutes
Assembly time: 5 minutes

Solid vegetable shortening for greasing the pan

Flour for dusting the pan

1 package (18.25 oz) plain yellow cake mix

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter or margarine at room temperature

4 large eggs

2 cans (15 oz each) pumpkin

1 can (5 oz) evaporated milk

1-1/4 cups sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
(added by Mrs. Honda: 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp ginger and an additional half tsp of cinnamon)

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or margarine (chilled)

1 cup chopped pecans

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350f. Lightly grease a 13 by 9 inch baking pan with solid vegetable shortening, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pan aside.

2. Measure out one cup of the cake mix and reserve for the topping. Place the remaining cake mix, the butter, and 1 egg in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until well combined. 1 minute. Using your fingertips, press the batter over the bottom of the prepared pan so that it reaches the sides of the pan. Set the pan aside.

3. For the filling, place the pumpkin, evaporated milk, one cup sugar, remaining three eggs, and cinnamon in the same large mixing bowl used to prepare the batter and with the same beaters (no need to clean either), blend on low speed until combined. 30 seconds. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the mixture lightens in color and texture. 1 to 2 minutes more. Pour the filling over the crust in the pan, spreading to the sides of the pan with a rubber spatula. Set the pan aside.

4. For the topping, place the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the chilled butter, and the reserved cake mix in a clean medium-sized mixing bowl. Rinse and dry the beaters. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined and crumbly. 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stop the mixing machine and stir in the pecans. Use your fingers to thoroughtly kneed the pecans into the topping mixture. Distribute the topping evenly over the filling mixture. Place the pan in the oven.

5. Bake the cake until the center no longer jiggles when you shake the pan and the pecans on the top have browned. 70 to 75 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool slightly on a wire rack, 20 minutes.

6. prepare two recipes of Sweetened Cream. Slice the cake into squares and pass the Sweetened Cream (can use cool-whip) to spoon on top.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Jane, I like that idea of staying out of the way! Wish it would work around here. Who does the preparations at your house?

And oh, those obnoxious guests. Every family has one or two of them lurking in the rafters . . . or somewhere.

My mom and dad always invited the servicemen from the nearby army base to share our holiday dinners.

jo robertson said...

Anna said, "Some, I think, came from the ether! Perhaps we should have an Ether Bunny!"

Oh, no, Anna's off with the puns already. Duck, everyone!

jo robertson said...

Anna, good on your for the Christmas cards. Mine usually go out in February as a "late" New Years letter.

We have a particular friend whose card we get every year the day after Thanksgiving! Just like clockwork, we know the first card of the season will be Leslie's.

jo robertson said...

Ah, Susan, I hate when I drink a soda late at night and I WANT to sleep, but can't. Better luck with the rooster next time. Mariska was quite quick.

OMG, your family doesn't sing!!?? That's heresy. I was looking at some of our family videos yesterday (because I'm trying to transfer them to disks) and almost every one, except the sports ones, involved some kind of singing! And there might've been some singing on the sports ones too -- you know, sort of cheerleader style.

It's wonderful when your own little family starts to make its own traditions.

Enjoy the casserole. It's not much in the way of healthy, but it's delish. Add a salad or veggie and you're set to you.

jo robertson said...

Now, Helen, that's a tradition you've got to get rid of. Read Shannon's comment; she's trying for a stress-free holiday.

Sounds like you're on top of it this year, especially with the baking. What's in your Christmas cakes? Are they like our fruit cakes that are so popular at Christmas?

jo robertson said...

Helen said, "Another tradition we have is everyone gets to stir the cake or pudding and make a wish."

What a lovely idea. It makes everyone have a part in the making of it.

It sounds heavenly to catch up on your reading! Afraid that's not in the cards for me.

Enjoy your holiday. Eleven days sounds good to me!

jo robertson said...

P226, I was waiting to hear about this infamous PAKE from yesterday's blog.

P226 said, "You can see, that pake protection is serious business."

ROTFLOL, hilarious, serious power protection needed and noted!

OH. MY. HOLY. S**T! That recipe sounds scrumptious. I'm definitely baking it and risking the imminent heart attack. Thanks to your wife for dreaming it up and sharing it with us.

One question: Are you sure about the 350 degree oven? 70-75 minutes is a long time. I think that might overbake in my oven, but then again we're at sea level here.

p226 said...

Several folks have used that recipe. I can ask her to come here and double-check, but I'm pretty sure that's right.

MsHellion said...

My way of keeping centered is to get a full body massage. *grins* And I plan to get one today.

Deb said...

When I was little and my (Danish) grandfather was still living, we would hold hands, circle around the Christmas tree and sing songs.
On Easter Sunday, after dinner and The Easter Egg Hunt, we fly kites. We've done this since my niece, now 21, was a baby. I think my BILs still enjoy doing this the most.
I always buy my daughter a new pair of pajamas and have her open them on Christmas Eve.
Also, when I was little, we would sing songs and rounds in the car while on vacation.
My husband's family's Christmas Eve tradition is odd and I don't much like it, but it's his tradition, so I do it for him and the kids.

Anna Sugden said...

Great blog, Jo and congratulations on all your little baptisees.

The main tradition hubby and I started, back in the days when we were both working and travelling a lot, is that we don't travel at Christmas. We are at home, full stop (or period, for you Americans). Anyone is welcome to join us for our Christmas and Boxing Day through to New Year celebrations - but we don't travel!

Another tradition is that I usually decorate the tree while watching one of my favourite Christmas movies "Christmas in Connecticut", then hubby puts the angel on the top.

And, hubby makes our family members their own traditional Christmas pudding and Christmas cake, using his late mother's recipes.

Over the years we've had to learn to be more efficient with our cards and pressies as we always have so many to send overseas. I'm actually quite glad about that as it means we get to really enjoy the run up to Christmas, instead of all that last minute panic!

Donna MacMeans said...

Love reading about everyone's traditions. Great idea, Jo!

We have a lot of traditions centered around Ohio State Football games and many of those involve food (grin). On superbowl Sunday, we'll have a dinner that features recipes from the cities that sponsor the teams. We used to have a Christmas tradition that involved hiding a pickle ornament. Whoever found the pickle got an extra present - usually a life-saver candy book. But the kids got older and the competition to find that pickle nearly wrecked the tree! Ornaments were flying every which way. The pickle no longer makes an appearance on the tree.

P226 - That pake recipe sounds wonderful. I'll have to try it.

Susan - That's terrible that your in-laws consider singing a solemn affair. I believe in singing loud and off-key and, if at all possible, dancing like a loon at the same time. One gets bonus points for actually knowing the right words. I was surprised to overhear my adult children talking to their cousin this Thanksgiving about the songs I used to sing to them to wake them up when they were little. I didn't think they remembered.

Helen said...

Melt and Mix Christmas Cake

3lb mixed fruit
1/2 cup sherry rum or brandy
1 green apple
1 tablespoon honey or golden syrup
1 cup brown sugar firmly packed
4 large eggs
8 oz butter
1 & half cups plain flour
1/2 cup self raising flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
2 tablespoons sherry rum or brandy extra

Place mixed fruit in large basin. add apple sherry peeled and coarsley grated apple honey sugar and eggs mix well with wooden spoon or hand to break up any large clumps of fruit. Add cooled melted butter and sifted flours and spice mix thoroughly. Place into deep 9 in round or 8 in square cake tin which has been lined with 3 sheets of greasproof paper. Make sure papers stands up around edge of tin to a height of about 2 in this is to protect the top of the cake during cooking time.
Bake in slow oven 3 & half hours until cooked when tested. Remove from oven and brush evenly with extra sherry cover tightly with aluminium foil leave until cold. Remove from tin leaving lining paper intact. Wrap cake tightly in plastic wrap then in foil store in a cool dark place or if weather is humid in refrigerator. This cake will keep for 3 months.

This is my Chrissy cake receipe very easy to make

Jo the funny thing is that even though I stress I know I always get everything done on time and we always have a great Christmas LOL.
If anyone makes the cake I hope you enjoy it as much as we do and don't forget to make a wish while stiring.

have Fun

Anna Campbell said...

Jo!!!! DUCK????!!!! Surely you mean ROOSTER!!!!

Susan Sey said...

Hey, P226! Pumpkin Pake has the exact same ingredients as Pumpkin Crack! We don't divide the topping between the top & bottom, though, we just pour the pumpkin goo into the pan & drizzle the yellow cake mix/butter stuff on top & bake it up. But the idea is the same! Who knew? Yum yum.

Donna wrote: I was surprised to overhear my adult children talking to their cousin this Thanksgiving about the songs I used to sing to them to wake them up when they were little. I didn't think they remembered.

Just the other morning my youngest woke up first and we ate breakfast together. Then we went upstaris to wake my oldest & the youngest started singing her the wake up song. I was astonished. Of course I sing them awake every morning but like you, I didn't think they were paying attention. It was just something annoying I do between the lights coming on & their opening their eyes & arising from the bed. But there was my youngest, singing the right tune & most of the same words I use (like you, I also make it up most mornings.)

I loved it. :-)

catslady said...

I started a tradition many years ago of having a tree trimming party. It started because of an uncle who wasn't married and has progressed to friends and family. Everyone helps with the tree and we make a day of it with football (some years), food, drink and laughter.

jo robertson said...

Thanks, P226, it sounds absolutely my kind of cake/pie LOL!

jo robertson said...

MsHellion, the full body massages are to die for. I always forget to schedule that little reward into my hectic life! There's a massage school near me, and if I get an advanced student, she does a great job and the cost is manageable.

jo robertson said...

Great traditions, Deb. I haven't flown a kite in years and it's so much fun.

I love the pajama idea. My daughters were just saying how their grandmother gave them these darling little capris-like p.j.'s, all matching and they'd wear them and pretend they were in a musical show.

jo robertson said...

Deb said, "My husband's family's Christmas Eve tradition is odd and I don't much like it, but it's his tradition, so I do it for him and the kids."

Okay, now, Deb, you've piqued my interest. What's the odd Christmas Eve tradition? Inquiring minds want to know.

jo robertson said...

Thanks, Anna S. It was a delightful event. I like your idea of banning traveling on holidays LOL, but I'd much rather travel than have people descend on my home.

I'm of Ben Franklin's mind. "Guest and fish smell after three days." :-D.

jo robertson said...

Vrai, I've never heard of "Christmas in Connecticut." What's that movie about?

Hmmm, and I'd love to have your husband's mother's Christmas pudding recipe. Is it a family secret or can you share?

jo robertson said...

Donna, I love that pickle ornament idea, how fun!

Tailgating traditions are the best, even if you're not particularly a football enthusiast. I love the idea of Super Bowl recipes from different states. How clever!

Isn't it exciting to hear what your children remember about those little things you do with them? I was singing "Scarlet Ribbons" to Annie one night while tending her and I remembered doing that with Annie's mom, Shannon. Annie said, "My mommy doesn't sing those words." Apparently Shannon had changed the somewhat old fashioned words to make more sense for Annie. So cute.

jo robertson said...

Yummy, Helen, thanks for sharing that recipe. The best part is probably the wish while stirring.

jo robertson said...

Anna said, "Jo!!!! DUCK????!!!! Surely you mean ROOSTER!!!!"

You goofball Aussie, you! Have you been dipping into the sherry?

Deb said...

Jo, Jo, Jo. How I was so hoping no one would ask about hubby's family's tradition. I have to set it up to make it sound so odd.
Jerry's grandparents were very poor when they were first married and, as the story goes, Grandma didn't have enough money for a nice meal on Christmas Eve because she spent her egg money on preparing a meal on the roast chicken and trimmings for Christmas Day.
The only food in the house, as the story goes, was a can of tuna, and a bottle of strawberry pop. So, as the story goes, she fixed tuna salad sandwiches strawberry pop for supper that night and they ate by candlelight. (As if that would take their mind off eating tuna salad??)
I fix the tuna salad and have strawberry pop for Jerry, but that doesn't mean I don't have other things, like homemade potato soup, etc. (I am not a fan of tuna salad.)

Deb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deb said...

Oops, that should be tuna salad sandwiches and drank strawberry pop.

jo robertson said...

Susan, that's so sweet what you (and Donna too!) do to wake up your kids. Trust me when I say their little brains absorb every bit of those precious memories. You'll be astonished when they're older what they'll remember.

I think it's super that you have so much music in you and share it with them.

jo robertson said...

catslady said...
I started a tradition many years ago of having a tree trimming party.

How thoughtful to invite everyone to share in that experience with you.

jo robertson said...

Awwww, Deb, I think that's a wonderful story to pass down from generation to generation! Of course, I AM a fan of tuna salad, so it sounds super to me!

Honestly, there were days when Dr. Big and I didn't have much more than a can of tuna in the cupboard!

jo robertson said...

Tee hee, Deb, I knew what you meant. And it's very sweet of you to do that for Jerry in remembrance of his grandparents.

And of course the homemade potato salad is just the frosting on the cake. Yummy, I'm getting hungry!

Keira Soleore said...

Nothing new to add here except that I love, love, love Fiddler on the Roof and Tevya's character, particularly the songs Tradition, Tradition and If I were a Rich Man.

Nancy said...

Mariska, congrats on taking home the rooster!

Jo, what a wonderful recipe for leftovers. We've finished ours, but we'll have more in a few short weeks (eep!--haven't read all books received last Christmas!--eep!)

Traditions . . . the angel the dh's sister made goes last on the tree, and the Swedish paper baskets go first. Keeping them company is a white plastic reinder with red trim, only survivor of a set that used to grace my parents' tree.

We have Swedish pancakes, complete with lingonberry filling, on Christmas morning.

We go out to eat for birthdays, with the birthday person choosing the place.

On our annual beach trip, my female classmates and I do toasts Saturday night, culminating with one Staley made up a year or two ago.

My friend Ann and I take each other out to lunch on our birthdays. We always give each other a calendar for Christmas.

One friend of mine always receives Moravian ginger cookies from Old Salem from me at Christmas.

The boy always gives me a jigsaw puzzle for my birthday and Christmas.

We read "A Christmas Carol" aloud in the leadup to the big day.

Nancy said...

Anna, I like writing cards, too. If I don't start on them early, though, it becomes something to rush through rather than something to savor.

So far, conditions this year favor an early start. We'll see.

Nancy said...

Shannon, I know what you mean about the chaos. There's such a high level of expectation about this holiday in particular, that it's easy to get caught up in meeting that instead of enjoying the sentiment in the air.

p226 said...

I checked with Mrs. P226, the 70-75 minutes is correct. Hers comes out fine at 70.

Anna Campbell said...

Jo, only word to say - HIC!!!

Keira Soleore said...

Nancy and Anna, for the first time in 20 years, my cards are going to be horrendously late, like end of January.

jo robertson said...

Yeah, Keira, Fiddler's one of my favorites. I particularly like "Sunrise, Sunset," because it reminds me of how fast my own children have grown up.

jo robertson said...

Nancy, my family doesn't dare buy books for me for Christmas. They're sure to duplicate something I already have. I just donated 6 large bags of books to the library. I just can't keep them anymore unless they're FAV's. LIKE THE BANDITA BOOKS, of course!

jo robertson said...

Nancy, thanks for sharing those. You have some beautiful traditions.

I collect navtivity scenes and I really enjoy getting them out every year. Most are pretty fragile, but I have two that are wood and resin for the children to play with.

jo robertson said...

Ironically, Anna and Nancy, I think my cards are going to be on time this year. I was just thinking how I'd finished up my writing projects and only have the cards left to do.

jo robertson said...

Thanks to Mrs. P-226 for the timing on PAKE. I can't wait to make this! Seriously! We're having a family potluck on Saturday and I'm taking it! Hope it turns out okay. My culinary skills are sketchy at best.

jo robertson said...

Keira, why don't you just relax and send your cards out as New Years greetings? I've done that more than once and it really takes the pressure off me.

jo robertson said...

Anna, HIC right back at cha! I'm battling a terrible toothache, worst I've ever had. Right at the moment I'm on a vicodin high, tee hee, but I have to be careful because it makes me really nauseous.

Okay, ya'll -- TMI??

Anyway, I was thinking a hot toddy might really help this tooth calm down since I can't see my dentist until Thursday!!

Hence, the HIC!!

Cassondra said...

What a great blog, JoMama!

Traditions...A few years ago my mother decided to toss all traditions aside and do none of them any more, which was fine for her, but caused me a bit of angst. I came to realize, through that process. the value of tradition. YOu know, we don't remember what happened on July 24th any-given-year, unless it was catastrophic or otherwise life-changing. The memories we make which are often the most lasting are the ones built around traditions. We remember the stories Dad told at Christmas, and the jokes and fun shared playing cards after the holiday meal was finished. I remember learning the finer points of hand dishwashing by being allowed to man the dish sink (the most IMPORTANT dishwashing position) after Thanksgiving dinner. Those are what memories are made of, and they ground us, in my view. If a tradition does not serve a family well there's certainly no reason to keep it, but they're FUN.

One of my favorite holiday traditions was that card game mentioned above. The whole family took up positions around my grandmother's table for Rook. Those who did not play coached. (This coaching was dubious and much maligned). It was all part of the fun. When the grandkids had kids we would switch out and play UNO, which was a less strategy-intensive game, but cards were the thing. And the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Oh, and rather than everyone tearing into gifts willy-nilly, we unwrapped one at a time (I must add that we did NOT pile the tree so full that you could not see the tree--gifts at Christmas were reasonable and limited so that we did not become "stuff" oriented.). Everybody watched to see what the person got, and laughed or ooooohed and aaaaaahed appropriately, and thanks were issued to the giver.

I like these traditions. I am attempting to form some of them in my own house now that I am the center of the holiday gatherings. I'm finding that instituting traditions is not necessarily easy.

Cassondra said...

Fo said:

One of my favorite things heading for Christmas is sitting down and writing my Christmas cards. Days were when I used to include personal letters but sadly that's gone by the wayside.

Ha! Your personal letters have gone by the wayside? Heck, I've got four boxes of Christmas cards which have been sitting on the corner of my coat armoire for five years! That's right. I've never filled them out and mailed them! I can't get to it! Personal letters are a pipe dream.

You know about good intentions and the road to hell and all that, right?

Yeah....I'm on that road....

OH..uh..where IS Sven with my glass of Cabernet....?

Cassondra said...


Your family does not sing?


Neither does my husband's family. It may be the thing I miss most about my crazy, dysfunctional, uber-talented family. All of my brothers and sisters play instruments and sing. We can do KILLER four-part harmony. (yes, there are three of them)and at holidays, the nursing homes and hospitals used to ASK us to come and sing for them. We had bookings! No lie.

Teach your daughters how to close off one ear with a hand so they can hold the lead, will ya? Little girl voices are so soft and quiet compared to all the other voices......

I'm so pleased that you'll be teaching your girls to sing and do harmonies! It makes me warm and fuzzy inside. I miss that.

Cassondra said...

Helen said:

Another tradition we have is everyone gets to stir the cake or pudding and make a wish.

OH! I love this! I will have to figure out what could be stirred to wish upon at my house!

Cassondra said...

Susan Sey said:

Of course I sing them awake every morning but like you, I didn't think they were paying attention. It was just something annoying I do between the lights coming on & their opening their eyes & arising from the bed. But there was my youngest, singing the right tune & most of the same words I use (like you, I also make it up most mornings.)

Awwwww! Susan, that's WONDERFUL!

I am loving reading everybody's traditions. I am going to make the recipes this year.

P226, your link is broken. I can't get the picture. (frowny face) Maybe I'm doing something wrong....

Cassondra said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jo robertson said...

Hi, Cassondra. I like the opening one gift at a time. I hate it when everyone tears into all the presents at once and no one gets to see what everyone else got.

It just seems so . . . greedy!

Boyd's family always went camping and on picnics for just about every single holiday there was during the warmer months. Fishing, deer hunting, and camping were really big deals when he was growing up and he has wonderful memories of those days.

mariska said...

Better late than never :)

I searched these two recipes on the net (martha), seems delicious, hope you'll like them ;

Turkey, Cheddar, and Green-Apple Sandwich

Ingredients :

* 2 teaspoons grainy mustard
* 2 slices whole-grain bread, toasted
* 2 teaspoons mayonnaise
* 4 thin slices cooked white-meat turkey
* 1 ounce thinly sliced extra-sharp cheddar cheese
* 4 thin slices green apple
* 2 pieces red-leaf lettuce


1. Spread mustard on 1 slice of bread and mayonnaise on the other slice. Layer the remaining ingredients on mustard, and top with second slice of bread. Cut in half, and serve immediately.

Chocolate Marble Bread with Ganache

Makes one 8 1/2-inch loaf

* 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
* 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
* 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
* 4 large eggs
* 1/2 cup whole milk
* 1/4 cup heavy cream


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 1/2-by-4-by-2 1/2-inch loaf pan; dust with flour, tapping out excess. Sift flour, salt, and baking powder into a medium bowl.
2. Melt 5 ounces chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.
3. Put butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add sugar; raise speed to medium. Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Mix in eggs, 1 at a time. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two batches of milk. Mix until just combined.
4. Pour half of batter into melted chocolate; stir well. Alternating between remaining plain batter and the chocolate batter, drop large spoonfuls of batter into the prepared pan. When pan is filled, use a table knife to cut through mixture with a swirling motion.
5. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. (If bread browns too quickly, tent with foil.) Let bread cool slightly in pan on a wire rack, about 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around edges of bread to loosen; unmold. Let cool completely on rack.
6. Make ganache: Put the remaining 3 ounces chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until just about to simmer. Pour cream over chocolate; stir until mixture is smooth. Let stand 10 minutes to thicken slightly. Using a small offset spatula, spread ganache over cooled cake; let stand until set, about 1 hour. Bread can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 2 days.

jo robertson said...

Those recipes sound delicious, Mariska. Thanks for sharing.

Deb said...

Mariska, thanks for sharing the recipes. There is a little sandwich shop in Marion, Iowa called Mr. Beans and they make the turkey sandwich you wrote about except they put apple butter on as a spread instead of the mayo. Now, why don't I ever think about making yummy sandwiches like this for my own lunch??

Kennan said...

our favorite new tradition (we started it last year) is to open a family game every Saturday in December and play that game as a family during the week. the kids love it and what better gift than the gift of time?

thanks for creating the mood at the baptisms that i missed, mom. wish i were there! i have yet to see a kid fall into the baptismal font. now THAT would made things really exciting!